Invasion of the Neptune Men (1961)

aka Uchu Kaisoiku-sen
Article 1883 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-11-2006
Posting Date: 10-8-2006
Directed by Koji Ota
Featuring Sonny Chiba, Kappei Matsumoto, Shinjiro Ebara

Invaders from the planet Neptune attack the earth. Space Chief attempts to thwart their plans. Japanese boys in short pants watch.

Though I would never mistake them for good movies, there’s a certain goofy charm to the Starman series, and to PRINCE OF SPACE as well. That charm is largely missing from this one. Some of the explosion footage is rather impressive, I’ll admit, but a lot of that is stock footage from World War II (hence the giant billboard of Hitler). Other special effects are not badly done. The trouble is that the movie doesn’t put them together in any coherent and meaningful way; it seems plotted at random and there is no attempt to build any sort of suspense. Space Chief may be played by Sonny Chiba, but he is a thoroughly anonymous and uninteresting hero who barely appears in the movie, and the villains are equally anonymous, a fact that is only underlined by the fact that they speak to each other in musical tones that we can’t understand. When the most interesting thing about the invaders is that they walk as if they were all suffering from jock itch, that’s not a good thing. There are some fun ideas and concepts, but without a context, they just get lost in the shuffle. Ultimately, the movie tries to be appealing by concentrating on the most annoying characters; a gang of badly-dubbed children who will simply get on your nerves. The end result is a movie that, despite all the action and explosions, is as dull as dishwater. If you do watch, though, keep your eyes open for a guest appearance by a toy Robbie the Robot.

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